Tan Sri Rais Yatim delivers his maiden speech as Dewan Negara Speaker at Parliament, Kuala Lumpur on September 2, 2020. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Tan Sri Rais Yatim delivers his maiden speech as Dewan Negara Speaker at Parliament, Kuala Lumpur on September 2, 2020. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 — The proposal to divert 30 per cent of federal lawmakers’ allowances towards the country’s Covid-19 fight must be tabled and approved in Parliament, said Dewan Negara President Tan Sri Rais Yatim.

In an interview with Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, Rais explained that neither he nor Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun could make such a decision without reconvening Parliament.

Both the upper and lower houses are currently suspended under the Emergency proclaimed in January.

“We do not have any proposal on cutting the allowances of MPs because Parliament does not meet. Like the government, they have meetings, while Parliament has no sessions and is not allowed (to meet).

“We can’t do anything without going through the rules of the meeting because we have to do it through a motion. So in that case, the Dewan Rakyat is unable to make the decision,” he said.

However, Rais said he was completely behind the idea of cutting MPs allowance order to contribute to Malaysia’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The recommendation to do something for the sake of fighting together against Covid-19 is very good. Personally, I see there are some steps that certain parties can take, just officially can’t do it,” he said.

Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman has also expressed support for the cut, but added that the government should be fair in allocating funds to constituencies held by Opposition MPs.

“Each MP plays a big role in ensuring that their constituency receives appropriate funds, including donating some of their own. Each MP can have their own initiatives.

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“I wholeheartedly agree with the cut in allowance, but the government must be fair. We cannot just take the allowance cut but at the same time, the government MP’s constituency fund is still between RM3.8 million to RM4.5 million while for Opposition MPs it’s between RM0 and RM100,000,” he told Utusan.

Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil also said he was prepared to contribute his allowance to the Covid-19 Disaster Fund, on the condition that Parliament was reconvened and that these funds be managed by a parliamentary committee.

“If MPs give all their allowances to this fund, we don’t know who manages it and what happens to the money later. We don’t want to be like a certain leader who said don’t ask where the Palestinian relief fund went.

“It’s not about not wanting to contribute, it’s a matter of transparency,” he said.

This week, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said he and his federal ministers would channel three months’ of their salaries towards the Covid-19 fund.

Later, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali announced that civil servants would have their allowances cut to channel around RM30 million towards the same fund, ostensibly for the civil service to show its solidarity with the Cabinet.



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